UC May Soon Increase In-State Student Fees





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SAN FRANCISCO-Students may face a 6.5 percent fee increase next year-the first in-state raise in eight years.

The portion of next year's preliminary budget calling for the increase represents a UC effort to combat continuing economic shortfalls.

UC officials predict the state Legislature will not provide UC with enough funding, forcing students to bear the burden, according to a proposed 2003-04 budget released at the UC Board of Regents meeting yesterday.

"The key point to make here is the state is facing a major budget challenge, and that will probably impact UC," said UC spokesperson Hanan Eisenman.

Though exact figures on the state budget deficit are unclear, estimates begin at $10 billion. The state Legislature has cut UC funding 3 percent this year alone.

UC students pay an average of $3,429 per year-$4,200 at UC Berkeley-which is among the lowest levels for public institutions nationwide, according to UC officials.

Average student fees at comparable public institutions are $6,074, according to a UC statement.

The last time UC raised fees for California residents was during the economic recession at the beginning of the last decade.

Between 1990 and 1994, in-state student fees increased approximately 59 percent.

Since then, the state Legislature has been bankrolling the rising cost of UC operations.

UC Board of Regents approved a 4 percent increase in out-of-state tuition costs in July of this year.

The currently proposed in-state raise-about $225 per year-is one way UC officials are planing to maintain high academic excellence at a time of economic decline.

"No one likes fee increases," Eisenman said. "But we think a modest increase would help prevent deeper budget cuts, and it would help maintain high quality of the UC educational experience."

Officials will likely wait to finalize the increase until January when Gov. Gray Davis unveils his budget proposal, Eisenman added.

Officials said one-third of the fee hike will be sent to financial aid resources, allowing UC to decrease the financial burden on the lowest-income students.

"I don't think that the increase would have an effect on the ability of students to enroll or continue, especially if we have return to (financial) aid," said Richard Black, UC Berkeley assistant vice chancellor of admissions and enrollment.

But the proposal raised concerns among students who often shoulder the burden of heavy loans.

"We're going to fight it," said Mo Kashmiri, UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly external affairs vice president. "I think it's going to be a tough fight regardless. But as students we outnumber everyone, so we make a great voting block."

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